Foreword

There it stood, night after night, a tall figure covered in dark robes standing silently in the corner of my room, beside the television. It was not the first time I had seen it, and surely the fear the figure inspired would grip my heart again. The dream was recurring, and always the same.

The cloak which covered his face in shadow fell backward, revealing a pale faced man with scouring black eyes. His upper lip was pulled into a sneer so strong it was quivering, his nostrils flared and bushy black eyebrows arched high. The black amulet at his neck seemed to emanate a strange light that ebbed and flowed with each syllable of the familiar words he always spoke.

per potentiae die
per potentiae nocte
i vocare lupus
oppugnare, et ad pugnam
ita mote sit

The man repeated the chant, each time his voice growing in ferocity, until his sharpened white teeth where bared, and he was shouting, and then in a flash of light he was gone.

It was the heavy breathing that seemed to wake me out of the nightmare. My heart thudded deathly strong in my chest, the beads of sweat on my forehead cool in the summer heat. The breathing continued, turning into the low growls of a large animal. I sat up quickly and forced herself to peer into the dark of my room, where the dark man had stood in my dreams only moments ago. Increasingly I became aware of a presence. Something was in my room. I reached across the dark space and fumbled for the light switch, my eyes assailed by the vision before me and the brightness of the overhead lamp.

A wolf the size of a mastiff crouched beside the television, long white teeth gleaming in the moonlight. It's upper lips were drawn tight, quivering, dripping longs strands of drool down to the carpet. Black eyes with bright centers shined menacingly, ebbing and flowing like the amulet around the cloaked man's neck. It's shoulders rose and fell with every breath, the silver crest of winter fur only adding to its enormous size I was sure the animal was going to attack, and thought about bolting to the door, eying the distance between the wolf and the doorway.

It was the feral bark that startled me out of action, and before I could recover, or open my mouth to shout for help, the animal sprung from it's crouch in the corner onto my bed. I threw up my hands to cover my face, unable to swallow the shriek of fear that rose in my throat. I felt the sharp bite of teeth piercing the skin of my forearm, and then unimaginable pressure and the crack of breaking bones as the animal braced itself, yanking my arm away and nearly pulling me off the bed.

"Animale!" a familiar voice emanated through the room, causing the wolf to halt, and drop my arm from between its teeth. "Cessano dalla vigente!" my mother shouted from the doorway, her silken night robe half open, dark hair still mussed with sleep, both arms outstretched towards the wolf. A bright blue light sprung from the tips of her fingers, tinting the whole room blue, and a moment later the growling animal was gone.

"Elden!" my mother gasped, when the wolf had disappeared and the colour from her fingertips had faded, leaving only me, on the floor, covered in blood, the white tips of snapped bones protruding from my right arm.

With one sweep of her arm Leander cleared the low table beside my bed, gently taking my arm and positioning it across the wooden surface. The pain was overwhelming, a deep pulsing sharpness that grew with every moment that passed. I bit back tears, my lips contorted into a grimace, trying to keep a calm face for my mother, whose cheeks were wet with tears of her own.

"Hold still, baby," she cooed, brushing the sweaty curls out of my face. "This is going to really hurt," she warned, and then squeezed the torn flesh and seeping puncture wounds of my right arm with both hands.

I screamed, and after another flash of blue light and a searing pain, the world went dark around me.